It is hard to believe that we have completed the first half of our exchange in Brasil. The group traveled to Lindoia Thursday for the district conference. It was amazing. The opening ceremony, with the parade of flags for approximately 60 clubs followed by all of the related clubs was really impressive. the large meeting room was packed, and everyone seemed to be in a festive mood. It was very inspiring to see all of the clubs represented and actively participating in their conference. Fernandinho loaned me a computer to use the internet, but of course I had technical difficulties, and was never able to get the internet to work. Friday night was the GSE presentation, and I must admit that I was pretty nervous, but in the end everything worked out, and I relaxed considerable afterwards. Saturday our team attended the Rotary Kids conference. I is wonderful to see how important family is here. Maybe this is how they attract many younger members - by actively including family in the activities. Saturday night the costume party was great. I wasn~t thrilled at all about going to a costume ball dressed as a cheerleader, but it was fun. When I walked in the room, a couple of teenage boys dressed as football players spotted me and made me take a photo with them! I don~t think that would happen in the USA. Anyway, the band was wonderful, everyone danced, and ate, and danced, and ate, and danced. (you get the picture) I finally gave up at about 3.30 am, and went up to my room to pack. Sunday the return trip from Lindoia took six, yes six, hours. It seems that there was a major traffic wreck on the highway, and all of the traffice was diverted. By the time I got to my host family Sunday night it was 10 pm.
I am staying at the home of Nubia and Fernandinho and Amalia and Luiz Fernando this week. Fernandinho let me use one of his computers, but -- you guessed it- technical difficulties. When I returned home from a rotary club meeting at 1 am this morning he had it working, but I was pooped and hopped into bed. This morning we visited Pastoral da Crianca. The lady who met with us, Toninha, explained that the mission of this volunteer group is to reduce infant mortality. They provide in home support to pregnant women and children up to age 6. She then took us to visit a home in one of the favellas. The young woman who received us into her home was very gracious. She had a young daughter that looked to be about 4 or 5 years old, and a baby that looked about 1 year old. Her home consists of a kitchen about 4ft x 6ft, and a bedroom\ living room of about 8ft x 8ft. Despite the obvious poverty her home was very clean. Toninha explained that one of the things that the volunteers stress to the families that they serve is cleanliness and dignity.